Type of organization: 501(c)(4)
Employer Identification Number: 75-3148958
Supports: Conservative candidates
Location: Arlington, Va.
For the group’s activities during calendar year 2010:
- Total revenue: $22 million
- Total expenses: $24 million
- Net assets: $43,000
IRS Form 990 filing: 2010
- Tim Phillips (president): Pundit on Fox News, MSNBC and CBS; co-founder of the political consulting and public relations firm Century Strategies with Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed.
- Art Pope (director): Heir to a retail industry fortune and a former North Carolina state legislator who remains a major player in the state’s politics.
The Virginia-based 501(c)(4) with a network of 34 state affiliates is known for drawing support from the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch and for “incubating” the tea party movement. The group emerged in 2004 as a spinoff of Citizens for a Sound Economy, an organization founded in 1984 by the Koch brothers.
AFP supports “cutting taxes and government spending in order to halt the encroachment of government in the economic lives of citizens” and “removing unnecessary barriers to entrepreneurship and opportunity by sparking citizen involvement in the regulatory process.” In 2011, Phillips bragged that AFP had cultivated “the rise of Republican candidates who question or deny climate science.”
The 501(c)(4) shares resources, office space and staff with Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization — whose chairman as of 2010 was David Koch. Watchdog groups have reported that the AFP Foundation gets millions from a variety of conservative foundations including the Koch-controlled Claude R. Lambe Foundation, which gave $1 million from 2004 to 2006.
Still, as the Center for Responsive Politics reported in March 2012, “the sources of roughly 75 percent of the groups’ 2010 budget remain a mystery.”
Americans for Prosperity, launched a bus tour, sent in field staff and spent $3 million on issue ads in Wisconsin ahead of the state’s recall election of Republican Gov. Scott Walker, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. At one rally, Phillips called Walker’s controversial reforms “a new model for the country.” Walker ultimately survived the challenge, which was largely supported by labor unions.
In January, the group reportedly spent $6 million on ads targeting President Barack Obama over the Solyndra scandal. That spending does not show up in filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Americans for Prosperity in August announced a $25 million campaign targeting Obama. Several weeks later, it announced a $2.7 million ad buy targeting Senate candidates in competitive races in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Indiana, Nevada and Virginia.
In 2010, it spent $1.3 million on so-called “electioneering communications,” mostly targeting Democratic candidates in 45 House races. These are ads broadcast within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of a general election that mention candidates but don’t expressly advocate for their election or defeat.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Americans for Prosperity reported to the FEC spending roughly $40 million on political ads in 2012 — both electioneering communications and so-called “independent expenditures,” which do overtly urge viewers to vote for or against politicians.
Electioneering communications all but disappeared for a period in 2012 when a federal district court required donors to groups running such ads to be identified, but in September, Americans for Prosperity was one group to once again air such ads, as the Center for Public Integrity reported at the time. While political arguments are usually clear, organizations often call these ads “educational.”
See more data on Americans for Prosperity at OpenSecrets.org.
- “Happy Birthday, President Reagan,” released February 2012, depicted “two visions of America” by alternating between the sober warnings of President Barack Obama and the uplifting dictums of the late President Ronald Reagan.
- An April 2012 ad criticized Obama’s green jobs and stimulus plan. The ad urged viewers to call the White House and tell Obama: “American tax dollars should help American taxpayers.” Its claims came under scrutiny.
- In 2010, the group’s ad blitz focused on Democratic candidates for the House. It spent the most on Arkansas’ Chad Causey (who lost), running an ad calling him a “Washington yes man,” for supporting the stimulus bill. The ad mixes its messages, also accusing him of saying “no” to an anti-tax pledge.
- “So Many Things,” released in September 2012, featured real voters explaining how Obama disappointed them.
- For more ads, see Americans for Prosperity’s YouTube channel.
Last updated: Jan. 22, 2013
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